The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond

Posted: March 27, 2012 by Rebecca Patton in Lexington and beyond

 

Last Sunday night, after the initial opening night fever had died down, I went and watched the most anticipated movie of the year, “The Hunger Games.” As expected, the film was amazing and as a result I want to become Mrs. Mellark more than ever (but what else is new); however, even the soundtrack is being talked about all over Facebook–almost as much as the film itself, even.

“The Hunger Games” was filmed primarily in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, which is why the soundtrack’s folk sound is so appropriate. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Taylor Swift described the album as, “Appalachian music 300 years from now–what Americana and bluegrass music would sound like in the future” (http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20419951_20578463,00.html).

Find these songs on iTunes, Spotify or YouTube, and decide for yourself if they sound like futuristic folk or not:

1.      Arcade Fire, “Abraham’s Daughter.” Arcade Fire won Album of the Year at the 2011 GRAMMYs, and for good reason. This song has a dark, eerie feel to it, which is perfect since “The Hunger Games” film is sinister, too.

2.      The Secret Sisters, “Tomorrow Will Be Kinder.” This is a beautifully simple folk song about how much life sucks. I love it. Its premise is that, although everything is terrible right now, things will get better in the morning: “Sorrow weighs my shoulders down and trouble haunts my mind, but I know the present will not last and tomorrow will be kinder.”

3.      Neko Case, “Nothing to Remember.” This is a celebration song with a great sound. It just makes me happy; that’s all there is to it.

4.      Taylor Swift, featuring The Civil Wars, “Safe & Sound.” This is by far the most popular song on the album, but I’ll be honest: putting teen idol Taylor Swift and one of my favorite bands, The Civil Wars, together in one song did not appeal to me. However, after actually hearing the song, I have mended my ways. If Taylor keeps cranking out more songs like this, I will no longer write her off as a happy-go-lucky pop star.

 5.      Kid Cudi, “The Ruler and the Killer.” Wait, what is Kid Cudi doing on this album? It actually works, somehow. I’ll admit that it’s not my favorite song, but it gives the soundtrack an edgier feel. When I listen to this track, I feel like I’m Katniss striding through the forest about to take down a young elk with my bow and arrow.

 6.      Punch Brothers, “Dark Days.” Easygoing and folksy, this song is complete with mandolins, violins and beautiful harmony.

 7.      The Decemberists, “One Engine.” This is one of the more upbeat songs on the album, as you’d except from The Decemberists. There’s even a snare drum and electric guitar—how’d they get on this soundtrack, anyways?

 8.      The Carolina Chocolate Drops, “Daughter’s Lament.” This track makes me feel like I am standing in a clearing in the woods with one of the members of Celtic Woman as she serenades me. If this song were a river, I would swim in it.

 9.      The Civil Wars, “Kingdom Come.” Again, I love The Civil Wars, so anything they sing is like pumpkin ice cream for my soul. All that Joy Williams and John Paul White need are their wonderfully-compatible voices and an acoustic guitar, and they’re golden.

 10.  Glen Hansard, “Take the Heartland.” Although Hansard is the lead singer of indie rock band The Frames, I can’t stand this song. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the album at all.

 11.  Maroon 5, featuring Rozzi Crane, “Come Away to the Water.” I’m not the biggest fan of the pop rock band Maroon 5, but lead singer Adam Levine’s nasally voice actually works in this song. The haunting melody is far removed from Levine’s usual sound, and I’m okay with it.

 12.  Miranda Lambert, featuring Pistol Annies, “Run Daddy Run.” Although country music isn’t my preferred choice, this is probably one of my favorite songs on the whole album. The mandolin in the background gives it a folksy feel, which I love. Well done, Miranda. None of this “Gunpowder and Lead” crap.

 13.  Jayme Dee, “Rules.” I will admit that I’d never heard of this artist before, but now that I have, I’m a huge fan. This song doesn’t just sound lovely, but the lyrics are beautiful, too: “This blood keeps me alive, but what is it that runs through you? Electricity and wires, dictating everything you do. You tell me that you hear me and all your memories are real, but how do I know you don’t just feel what you’ve been told to feel?”

 14.  Taylor Swift, “Eyes Open.” Taylor has come a long way since “Teardrops on my Guitar,” but she still has some room to grow. This song—although catchy—is a bit too cliché to be on this album, in my opinion.

 15.  The Low Anthem, “Lover is Childlike.” This song is easygoing and entirely lovely–a clarinet makes an appearance at one point.

16.  Birdy, “Just a Game.” I love Birdy, particularly her cover of “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver.  This song is from Katniss’s point of view and is all about the love game that she and Peeta have to play in order to stay alive during the Hunger Games. The lyrics are very specific to the storyline, too: “Take my hand and my heart races. Flames illuminate our faces, and we’re on fire. Blow a kiss to the crowd; they’re our only hope now. And now I know my place, and now I know my place: we’re all just pieces in their games.” It’s a beautiful and poignant way to end the album.

My only question is this: why aren’t  The Weepies or The Head and the Heart on this soundtrack? Please work on that for “Catching Fire,” you movie people.

(Soundtrack list courtesy of amazon.com)

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